In this article, we take a look at fandom in eSports. More specifically, we focus on the European and North American League of Legends Championship Series (LCS). The data was collected from a survey on the League of Legends subreddit with 68,524 participants. We compare the fan distributions for teams in the LCS from Season 4 to Season 5.
The oldest teams in North America, TSM and CLG, have the largest fan base. TSM had 37% of the total fan base with a count of 24,295 fans in season 4. They kept 81% of their fans transitioning to season 5 but their support has decreased to 21,653. On the other hand, CLG gained supporters from season 4 to season 5. They have 26% of the fan base in season 5 with 17,020 fans.
Unlike traditional sports, it is common for teams to re-brand from one season to another. Therefore, it is hard to achieve brand loyalty. The supporters seem to be more attached to personalities and team standings. Perhaps this can be best seen by taking a look at Team Dignitas (DIG). Dignitas had 5,168 fans in season 4, but they dropped to 443 in season 5. When two DIG players, Scarra and ZionSpartan, made the move to CLG, 29% of the DIG fan base transferred to CLG as well. Furthermore, the retirement of Imaqtpie resulted in Dignitas keeping only 7% of their fans.
Europe and North America are similar in that the oldest teams, such as Fnatic (FNC), have the most fans. In this particular interactive, we can see how much performance matters. At the time of the survey (2/4/2015), SK Gaming was undefeated. The number of supporters increased from 3,475 to 10,927 with 18% of the total fan base supporting them.
The LCS has a stable number of fans. The North American LCS has around 64,795 and the European LCS has around 58,761 fans. Furthermore, these numbers are really lower bounds. On Twitch alone, around 200,000 viewers regularly tune in to watch the LCS. Riot Games also provides streams on Azubu and YouTube.
Unlike traditional sports, eSports is not tied to a location. For NA, the tournament happens at the Riot Games studio in Los Angeles, CA. For EU, the tournament is in Berlin, Germany. Almost every team is staying near the city where the tournament takes place. Therefore, you don't necessarily see local support for the teams. In total, only 1 team out of 10 in both NA and EU has rosters with the same national background. Recently, however, both regions have brought on more players from Korea and China.
Starting on August 6, 2012, the LCS has been active for less than three years. Sponsorships cause team names to change frequently. For example, Team Curse became Team Liquid and Alliance renamed themselves to Elements. Rosters also change frequently between splits depending on the performance of the players. In NA, only two teams from the previous split remained with the same roster out of 7 teams that continued. In EU, all the teams had a roster change.
In the tables below, we display Loyalty Rates for both NA and EU. There were 7 teams that moved on from S4 to S5. In NA, 68% of fans have supported the same team across both season. In EU, only 45% of the viewers have supported the same team, which means more than half have switched over teams!